A hangar is an enclosed structure to hold aircraft in protective storage. Most hangars are built of metal, but wood and concrete are other materials used. The word hangar comes from a northern French dialect, and means "cattle pen."
Hangars protect aircraft from weather and ultraviolet light. Hangars may be used as an enclosed repair shop or, in some cases, an assembly area. Additionally, hangars keep secret aircraft hidden from satellites or spyplanes.
Aircraft storage halls on carriers are also known as hangars.
In 1909, Louis Bleriot crash-landed on a northern French farm in Les Baraques (between Sangatte and Calais) and rolled his monoplane into the farmer's cattle pen. At the time, Bleriot was in a race to be the first man to cross the English Channel in a heavier-than-air aircraft, so he set up headquarters in the unused shed. After returning home, Bleriot called REIDsteel, the maker of the cattle pen, and ordered three "hangars" for personal use. REIDsteel continues to make hangars and hangar parts.
The Wright brothers stored and repaired their airplane in a wooden hangar they constructed in 1902 at Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina for their glider. After completing design and construction of the Wright Flyer in Ohio, the brothers returned to Kill Devil Hill only to find their hangar damaged. They repaired the structure and constructed a new workshop while they waited for the Flyer to be shipped.
One of the largest hangars built was for the former Soviet Air Force, it has now been converted to house a rain forest. Other large hangars are Suvarnabhumi Airport in Thailand measuring 885x295x115 feet, NAS Sunnyvale in the United States measuring 1,133x308x198 feet and the Filton Aerodrome in Bristol, England, measuring 1,155x115x263 feet.
During the "Golden Age" of airship travel (starting in 1900), mooring masts and sheds were constructed to build and house airships. The British government built a shed in Karachi for the R101, and the Brazilian government built one in Rio de Janeiro for the German Zeppelins. The largest airship hangar, at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio, was used for the construction of the USS Akron (ZRS-4) and USS Macon (ZRS-5). Its length was 1,175 ft (358 m) and its height 200 ft (61 m).
The US Navy established ten "lighter-than-air" (LTA) bases across the United States during World War II as part of the coastal defense plan. Hangars at these bases are some of the world's largest freestanding wood structures. Seven of the original seventeen hangars still exist, with one of them now housing the Tillamook Air Museum in Tillamook, Oregon.